Many people trying to do their best to follow public health advice are finding it difficult and uncomfortable to wear masks for long periods of time.

Every day you’ll see plenty of people without masks and more who are wearing them incorrectly: Pulled down so they don’t cover their nose or riding under their chin. Wearers are touching the outside of the mask to readjust them or to pull them off so they can talk.

All of this reduces the benefits of wearing a mask, it increases the risk of having potentially contaminated hands near the face, and may give wearers a false sense of security when out among others, experts say.

So how effective are masks when they aren’t worn correctly and could face shields be a more practical long-term solution as we learn to live with Coronavirus (COVID 19)?

Masks are recommended to minimize the risk of those carrying the virus without any symptoms (studies have found that up to 81 per cent of Coronavirus (COVID 19) cases are asymptomatic) from unknowingly and silently spreading it to others.

Face coverings are believed to offer at least something of a barrier to prevent respiratory droplets emitted through coughing, sneezing, laughing or talking from travelling from an infected person to others.

The problem is that face masks are irritating. If they don’t fit right (and most don’t), they drift up into wearers eyes or down under their noses. They are uncomfortable and itchy, especially in hot and humid environments such as restaurant kitchens.

Some people feel claustrophobic, anxious or dizzy in face masks.

Masks aren’t meant to be worn for long periods of time. As the material gets wet from breathing, it loses its filtration function. Masks can also become contaminated with bacteria and mold.

Masks are also a barrier to human connection. It’s hard to have a conversation with someone behind a mask, and forget trying to smile. For those with hearing issues, masks are a big problem, and there’s no doubt that children, and plenty of adults, find them unsettling, if not outright scary.

As more people wear disposable hygiene masks the problem of safe disposal has become a real issue. You’ll see them discarded everywhere, on the street, the beach and even in the sea.

Remember this isn’t just a piece of cloth or paper; it’s a biohazard that could have been worn by someone infected with a highly contagious, potentially fatal disease.

In the retail environment face masks block smiles and prevent you from connecting with your customers.

Masks and the hard of breathing

A person with asthma or COPD may be OK to wear a mask for a half-hour shopping trip, but they won’t be able to wear one for a shift at work.

Masks can cause hyperventilation and breathing in hot, humid air may cause irritation and trigger asthma symptoms.

Masks and the hard of hearing

Masks leave those living with hearing loss struggling in a world where they can’t lip read. One American woman who documented her face mask problems on Facebook had her post shared almost 70,000 times.

Transparent shields are a great alternative to masks for many reasons

Shields are far more comfortable and allow both verbal and non-verbal communications. They don’t need to be removed to talk.

Shields are hard to use incorrectly and don’t touch the skin to any great extent. They’re also far less obtrusive and intimidating.

While shields won’t entirely block the respiratory droplets ejected by coughing, sneezing and talking, they will prevent them from flying out in front of you, which is very dangerous in face-to-face situations.

A lightweight, clear face shield that fits you well is much more comfortable and easier to wear than a mask.

Shields are reusable and easy to clean quickly with disinfectant wipes or soap and water. This is huge advantage over cloth masks that must be run through a washing machine or disposable ones that are a Biohazard.

Face shields are a great solution where masks aren’t appropriate and are certainly preferable to a mask worn incorrectly.

What does the future hold for Transparent Face Shields

Until we have a vaccine, and perhaps even then, no intervention will be 100% effective.

Using transparent shields when social distancing isn’t possible makes a lot of sense as they are much easier to live with than other cloth coverings and so people are far more likely to use them and to use them correctly

Coronavirus (COVID 19) isn’t going away any time soon, but even when we return to the new normal face shields are here to stay in food service.

“I just can’t imagine a day down the road where the head of a fast food chain says, ‘Now it’s OK if we sneeze in people’s food again.’”

About the author : David Ellis